The apostasy of the gentiles.
Needless to say, same-sex marriage supporters hold this view to be ludicrous. They, and the media controlled by them, continue to discredit by every means possible the so-called social conservatives as a tiny minority of far-right reactionaries who stand in the way of progress and freedom. With political correctness as the prevailing attitude, they have triumphed in Parliament once again. But let us not be despondent. Instead, let us set this latest defeat in its proper context so that at least we may understand what we are facing.
American Catholic writer Thomas Storck sees the legal deconstruction of the last 40 years as part of "the apostasy of the gentiles," a phrase first applied in the nineteenth century following the general secularization of European thought and life in the decades after the French Revolution and the falling away of so many from the Faith. The return of Christ will not occur, St. Paul tells in 2 Thessalonians, "unless the apostasy comes first (2:3) and in Romans that "a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved" (11:25-26). The Roman Catechism (Council of Trent, 1546) taught that "the general judgment will be preceded by these three principal signs: the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world, a falling away from the faith, and the coming of the Antichrist" (See also the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1993), #674-675). The first has been fulfilled and the second has been underway for four or more centuries but has accelerated unexpectedly since World War II in an era of greatly increased affluence and breathtaking technological advances. This is the era in which we live today (Homiletic & Pastoral Review, July 2005).
It is now recognized within the Catholic Church that the loss of faith among the peoples who once constituted Christendom is well advanced. Recently, Pope Benedict spoke of Europe as a Godless society. "Europe," he said, "has developed a culture that, in a manner unknown before now to humanity, excludes God from the public conscience, either by denying Him altogether, or by judging that His existence is not demonstrable and therefore uncertain and belonging to the realm of subjective choices, something, in any case, irrelevant to public life" (April 1, 2005; Zenit, July 26).
The heartland of Christianity, Europe, while retaining pockets of strength as in Poland, has essentially apostasized, and so have overseas settlements such as Australia and Canada and, to a lesser extent, the United States. Where once there was a social order with Christian laws, institutions, and customs, at least in intent, Catholics (and Evangelicals) in the Western world now have to live within the public forms of an anti-Christian society where intellectuals, economists, politicians, and artists no longer think of Christianity as meaningful. The attacks launched against the family and the dignity of human life in the 1960s with contraception, divorce, abortion, and homosexuality--all under the guise of freedom--are now coming to fruition with threats of coercion and bullying against those who oppose it.
This, for all we know, may well bring some benefit, in particular as a wake-up call regarding the apostasy in society as well as in the Church. "Be active, not reactive," writes Calgary's bishop Fred Henry. He suggests that within our own ranks we:
"need to rethink out attitude towards children, the prevailing contraceptive mentality, the practice of abortion, our divorce culture, and day-care parenting" (Calgary Sun, July 31, 2005).
For one example, see Msgr. Vincent Foy's reply to Fr. Michael Prieur in this issue.
Our bishops should re-inforce the Catholic faith. As the late Pope John Paul II repeatedly stated, Europe needs to be re-evangelized. When necessary, this should include steps to defend the faith against dissenters (See "Catholic rebellion: politicians and Communion" in this issue).
For the laity, the new work would require social and political action. Even such simple things as organizing a consumer boycot (e.g., against major sponsors of "gay" events) raise consciousness, while longer-term changes are being put in motion.
"Take courage ... Keep the mandate of the Lord, your God, following His ways and observing His statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees, that you may succeed in whatever you do" (1 Kings 2: 2-3).
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|Title Annotation:||THE TRUTH WILL MAKE YOU FREE (John 8:23)|
|Author:||de Valk, Alphonse|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2005|
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